Sergey Tokarev, the initiator of STEM is FEM, talked about the success and achievement of the project so far during the first year. The STEM is FEM project has completed the first year with various noticeable achievements.
What is STEM is FEM?
STEM is FEM is a charity project initiated by Sergey Tokarev, a Reface investor, last year. The project aims to destroy gender stereotypes in the tech industry of Ukraine. During the first year of the project, more than two hundred individuals from all across Ukraine participated in seven educational modules. The Reface investor talked about the importance of gender equity in different fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). STEM is FEM conducts free educational events for schoolgirls in Ukraine to encourage their participation in the STEM fields.
Sergey Tokarev said that they got the idea of initiating this project when they found a huge gender imbalance in the IT-sphere of Ukraine. He noted, “Today, the whole IT sphere is striving for gender parity. However, the number of women in IT still barely reaches a third of the total number of developers.” In Ukraine, there is a stereotype that only men can be IT professionals. Women are less likely to choose IT while studying at the school, college, or university level. Tokarev said that there was a need for change in this regard. That is why he initiated a project, STEM is FEM, in 2019 to introduce schoolgirls with different career prospects in the field of IT.
How does STEM is FEM teach schoolgirls?
In the first year, the project held seven free educational modules focused on STEM. These modules introduced the schoolgirls to various tech industries including ecology and energy, biotechnology, information technology, robotics, 3D modelling and printing, construction and architecture, and mechanical engineering.
The length of a module of STEM is FEM is usually two days. Female speakers share their personal experience and professional knowledge related to the topic of the module. The participants are engaged in various creative activities to judge their learnings. During the first year of the project, the schoolgirls designed disinfection robots, benches, and bike stations. “During the offline modules, our participants visited the aviation museum, the genetic laboratory, the hydrometeorological institute, the dispatch service of Kyiv Electric Networks, as well as GlobalLogic, Beetroot, and a BMW car showroom, where schoolgirls could gain first-hand knowledge about tech processes,” said Sergey Tokarev.
Most of the modules under this project were held in Kyiv. The purpose of holding these modules in different enterprises located in Kyiv is to allow the participants to see the practical implementations of the lectures given by the specialists. However, the project is organizing online modules at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tokarev ensured that they would get back to normal practice when the pandemic would end.
STEM is FEM also involves motivational speakers in its modules to allow the participants to get aspiration from various successful women in the field of politics, diplomacy, business, and government. Sergey Tokarev noted, “Motivation is one of the most important keys to success, along with technical skills.”
There are various other organizations that supported STEM is FEM during the first year. These organizations include the US Embassy in Ukraine, the Finnish Embassy in Ukraine, UNICEF and UN Women, America House Kyiv, Beetroot, GlobalLogic, BMW Ukraine, and various others. Tokarev called gender imbalance in STEM a ‘global issue’. He said that there was a need for global efforts to destroy this stereotype.